J.League Chairman Mitsuru Murai has revealed how impressed he was with Kashima Antlers following their J1 League win on Saturday.
Mastada Ishii’s men performed the feat of coming back from a 1-0 loss in the first leg to winning the second leg 2-1 and thus being crowned champions 2-2 on aggregate based on away goals.
And Murai hailed the inner strength of Japan’s most successful outfit as they built on their J.League Cup win last season during Ishii’s first season in charge.
“I would like to congratulate Kashima Antlers on winning the MEIJI YASUDA 2016 J.League Championship and finishing the season as J1 League champions, their eighth such title and first in seven years,” he said.
“It was a remarkable come-from-behind victory that demonstrated the strength of Kashima’s ‘Invincible Army’ and their ability to find a way to win.
“Masatada Ishii and his players were under no small amount of pressure, needing a minimum of two goals to win the title. But tonight they showed the winning mentality that won the First Stage and put on an incredible display in this key match.
“This stunning reversal could only have been achieved by Japan’s most decorated club. Mr. Ishii has successfully passed on the club’s DNA that he inherited as a player, developing the talent of his squad in order to earn their 18th title.
“I would also like to praise the incredible performance of Kashima’s championship rivals, Urawa Reds and Kawasaki Frontale.
“This year’s MEIJI YASUDA J.League Championship saw a total attendance of 107,120 fans, surpassing last year’s total and drawing in even more fans via terrestrial and internet broadcasts.
“Kashima Antlers will now represent the J.League at the FIFA World Cup 2016 Japan. In recent years, J.League clubs have struggled to achieve good results in Asia. A difficult challenge lies ahead, but I look forward to seeing Kashima Antlers’ brand of football on the global stage.
“Tonight’s match marks the conclusion of this season’s MEIJI YASUDA J1 League. I would to thank all of our fans as well as title sponsors MEIJI YASUDA and the rest of our supporters.
“The J.League will welcome an even greater season of reform in 2017. As we pursue a higher level of football, we will continue to work hard to help the J.League reach an even wider audience.”